Drilling quote was taken out of context | AspenTimes.com

Drilling quote was taken out of context

Dear Editor:

My opponent in the race for the open seat on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners has recently sent out a fundraising letter that contains many untruths, half-truths and misrepresentations about my positions on various topics.

To argue against all of them will take more than one letter, so I will respond to his statements one at a time. In John Young’s first point, he states that I am willing to consider drilling for natural gas in Pitkin County and that he is vehemently opposed to it for environmental reasons.

To shed some light on my position on this subject, I quote from my statement in the Aspen Daily News candidate questionnaire printed in the June 24 issue: “I believe that natural gas drilling that is located by existing roads, but off of irrigated farmland and away from homes and businesses can be appropriate. We all use natural gas, and will for many years to come until we can replace it with new energy sources such as solar, biogas and hydrogen fuel. I would not favor developing natural gas in any roadless area. We should not permanently ruin any land to develop a fuel source that has a limited life span.”

John conveniently left out the second portion of this quotation in his flier, thus making it sound like I am in favor of gas drilling in Pitkin County.

Actually, my position would preclude any drilling in most of the five-county Thompson Divide area, which is roadless at this time and should stay roadless and undrilled forever. You can compare this to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which should never be exploited for the oil that lies underneath it. The surface environment is simply too precious to ruin for a few years’ use of fossil fuels. On portions of the Thompson Divide area, there are already roads and natural-gas developments, including decades-old drilling pads, natural-gas pipelines and a natural-gas storage area where gas is pumped underground for storage until winter, when it is used in the Roaring Fork Valley. Several gas companies hold valid leases on big portions of the Thompson Divide area and have been unwilling to vacate or sell these. We need to realize that there may be new gas drilling in these parts of our county.

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In the meantime, there are practical solutions to our energy problems that would make drilling for any more natural gas an unnecessary and obsolete technology. Our country just has to muster the political and economic will to put in place the myriad renewable energy supplies and conservation measures that are needed to replace the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, including natural gas.

A major part of my platform in this election lays out my energy plan for getting Pitkin County fully on board with other local efforts by governmental, nonprofit and commercial entities in our valley who have made it a primary goal to promote wise renewable-energy policies.

I am not a person to shove the impacts of developing my personal energy supplies onto someone living elsewhere. Any energy development has some local environmental impacts, and I am willing to have those in my backyard if they are part of the energy solution of the future. Developing more natural gas has both local and worldwide impacts on the environment. Burning natural gas instead of coal to generate electricity keeps an enormous amount of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and so it is seen as a transition fuel to help us get off of fossil fuels.

The U.S. output of carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas that is driving global climate change, has actually decreased 20 percent in recent years, partly due to our switch to natural gas in place of coal. But the ultimate goal of any true environmentalist, such as myself, is to help this world transition to a renewable-energy economy that burns no fossil fuels.

These topics were talked about a lot at the recent AREDay summit, which is arguably the most important meeting to be held here in Aspen each year. If you are such an ardent environmentalist as you claim to be, why didn’t I see you there, John Young?

Steve Child

Old Snowmass